Sorcerer, part 1 — the Action

(See also my previous post detailing the PCs.)
With the Sorcerer characters completed no later than 8pm (!), I wanted to do something that would introduce us to all aspects of the system with a minimum of fuss and complication. To that end, we used the Training Run from the main Sorcerer book.

The player’s kickers both had strengths and weaknesses; Sebastian’s was very immediate and interesting, but didn’t tie into the plot of the Test Run very tightly at all (I’m working on retrofitting it to tie in but not having much luck).
Conversely, Shannon’s didn’t have a lot of OMIGOD punch, but wove into the scenario well.
Sebastian’s kicker (provided entirely by the player) was that after an uneventful evening involving relatively little debauchery, he woke to a strange smell in his (top floor, off-campus) apartment. In his walk-in closet he discovered a coed hanging from a meat hook. While he recognized the coed, he did not recognize the meat hook, nor had he seen either the night before.
Just then, someone knocked loudly on the front door.
Sebastian used his link to holler for Shade (who was lurking around the Campus peeking in windows, an activity Ryan encouraged for a number of reasons (gave him dirt on the student body and fed Need)). Shade showed up and was sent to the closet to ‘figure that out’ while Seb forced himself to saunter to the door casually.
The visitor was a courier with a message from his mentor that read:

Come. Immediately.

It was at this point that we realized that Ryan’s mentor’s initials sounded like c’est la vie, which works rather well on a number of levels. Heh.
Right. Seb tips the courier and goes back the closet where he and Shade stare silently at the girl and think about the twelve floors between them and the parking garage.
Less immediacy here: Shannon receives a letter from her mother (now living as far away from Yale as she can get). The envelope contains a brief note from Mom (“Thought you might want to have this.”) and an engraved invitation to a party this evening at the home of Alonzo Clarence Shaw. The invitation is addressed to her father, has a handwritten note at the bottom that reads “Looking forward to seeing you again, old friend”, and is signed with a sigil that Shannon has only ever seen in her father’s personal notes. (I made up something for the Black Wheel.)
A connection to Dad!
A party…
Ugh. Shannon is not good at parties (see her Price).
Without going into too much detail, the rest of Shannon’s day is spent picking out clothes and having Bister check out Shaw on the internet (an alumni and long-time contributor to Yale who hasn’t been seen in public for several months — he has a home on the outskirts of Cambridge (matching the address on the invite), for which no photos can be found.
Back with Sebastian, the GM and the player try to work out the mechanics of what a Stamina 5 demon can be expected to carry around when they don’t have Transport. Can they fetch books using Travel, or carry nothing at all? Can they just walk around, lugging a body but not using Travel? One would hope so.
Anyway, since the coed’s not ‘living tissue’ anymore, the body is subject to Shade’s Warp ability. Ryan has Shade twist the body around into a passable imitation of a piece of luggage (I know… eww) so they can get her down to the Audi TT with some degree of subtlety. Ryan knew and had in fact dated the girl several times in the past, but not in the last several weeks, and has no idea what’s going on.
Once in the car, Ryan proposes dumping her in a dumpster somewhere, but Shade has something of a problem with this, since she was a decent enough girl and doesn’t really deserve that kind of treatment (moral? a demon? not really… but it’s not really poetic justice).
Great line:

ME: Umm… Shade has a problem with the dumpster idea.
Player: Yeah… I kinda thought he might.

Shade proposes any number of people who richly deserve to be framed for the girl’s murder but Ryan eventually opts for the simpler solution of leaving her (tastefully, and warped back to her normal shape) near a stream outside of town and anonymously calling the cops.
He then heads to CLV’s house, where she is chain smoking and holding an engraved invitation to a party. She’s stressing about this because of what she does and doesn’t know about Shaw: he’s a major mover and shaker in the Sorcerous community, but she’s never met him — she has no idea why he’d invite her anywhere, but at the same time she doesn’t dare turn him down. She’s been agonizing over the invitation for weeks, but tonight is the night of the party and her options are reduced to nil.
She has to go, and the invite allows for a guest, so Sebastian’s going to.
Ryan goes and prepares for the party, picks up CLV, and talks to her about the “coed problem” on the way out to the house (the renfrew-cat is in the back seat, crunching on a June-bug).

CLV: Did you know the girl?
Ryan: We dated.
CLV: I assume that’s some sort of euphemism for having sex.
Ryan: Hardly a euphemism… sex is what normally happens in the course of a date.

Everyone arrives at the house
Here’s the point where dice start to hit the table in earnest. Sebastian has Shade with him, CLV is there and has sent her cat around the back of the house to scout around, Shannon got there a few minutes earlier and is trying merge with the wallpaper (if only she knew!) and stay out of the way, plus there’s Yvonne and another NPC sorcerer I’ve thrown in among the crowd of professors, alumni and other film students and wannabe’s in the crowd — all in all, there were a bunch of demon and sorcerer telltales to potentially spot.
Spotting Telltales
I found it easy enough to figure out how to spot demon telltales (Lore vs. (10 – Demon’s Power)), but couldn’t seem to locate the formula for doing that with another Sorcerer’s telltales, so I made it Lore vs. Humanity (the lower the humanity, the less you could pass as ‘normal’), which worked well enough but left me wanting the ‘real’ rule. (edit: Turns out the real rule would have resulted in the same dice hitting the tables, so no biggie.
Amusingly, Sebastian (Lore 2) simply assumed that everything and everyone was either a demon or a sorcerer and proceeded calmly into the party with that assumption in mind and a smile on his face… the best part of that was the fact that his Humanity was high enough that no one else really picked up on the fact that he might be a sorcerer.
Yvonne (who I portrayed as Lara Flynn Boyle) showed up to give everyone the wiggins… I mean, invite them to mingle and enjoy themselves. Ryan saw and greeted “the librarian” whom he’d seen on any number of his book-hunting missions for CLV… somewhat surprised to find out that she was a sorcerer (remember, he’s simply assuming everyone at the party is).
Mingling goes on… several film students try to recruit Seb for roles in their projects, etc.
Yvonne shows up again and tells Shannon and Alonso is very curious to talk to her, since he was very close with her father, and would you mind a private conversation with him, upstairs? Shannon agrees willingly and is led to a third-floor study, given a chair, and told that Shaw will be right in.
Yvonne leaves, heads back downstairs, makes an abortive attempt to seduce Sebastian (who is somewhat on his guard after noticing the human bones working in to the art on the walls), and is interrupted by CLV, who pulls Seb aside to inform him that her link with her cat has been severed in some way.
Right about then, the wings of Shannon’s wingback chair reach out and grab her.
Seb has Shade use his perception to look into rooms in the house to see if he can find the cat. Shade does, and offers to go get the little blighter, but Seb demures. He asks for directions, but Shade can’t give them easily — the ‘directions’ work for teleport-hops, but not so well for walking there. Still, using some triangulation, they figure that they can determine what floor he’s on (if they’re getting closer) and find him that way… also, staying together.
The GM is bummed he can’t seem to separate Shade from Seb, but conceals it well 🙂
Meanwhile, Shannon is struggling with the humanoid shape bulging out of her chair and grappling with her. She manages to have Bister help break her out of the Hold and heads for the door. The demon ‘bulges’ down into the carpet and grabs her ankles. She hits the floor with the shriek and a thump.
The two sorcerers and Shade are moving from the second to the third floor. Shade picks up noise from one of the rooms but the door is locked… sounds like some kind of struggle. Ryan has Shade Warp the door so that the lock will not be latched to anything, but the Warp doesn’t work… it’s not unliving material!?!? Shade tries the wall as well, with the same effect. HMMM.
Just about then, the carpet runner in the hall bulges up and tries to grab Seb. He leaps back trying (not coincidentally) to be further away from the thing than CLV so that it’d go for her first. I almost gave him a humanity check for this bit of cold-blooded behavior — I would have if his Humanity had been any higher than it was… anyway, he avoids being grabbed.
Meanwhile, Jackie (playing Shannon), has picked up the Sorcerer book for the first time since picking out demon abilities during chargen and is reading furiously. When I turn back to her, she rips off a great bit of dialogue (highlighting her rageful and vengeful Will descriptor) and goes for a Punish… a great tactical move and completely out of the blue as far as I was concerned.
The problem: she didn’t get initiative on the round, which means the Demon is going to get a chance to bite her first. She opts to ‘soak’ it, since he’s at 1 dice either way (due to a 1-success demonic fist-attack from the last round), and hope that she can stay conscious long enough to get the punish off.
Not only does she get it off, the demon missed its attack and she can punish it without having to make a Will check to stay in the fight. Still prone, she grips the thing around the ‘neck’ and, screaming invective, lays on the dice: two success leave the thing writhing in pain.
In the hall, Seb gets his unspoken wish and the carpet-demon goes for CLV — it lunges and shoves her against he wall, which promptly engulfs her up to the knees and elbows. Seb has already ordered Shade to pound on the demon, so he grabs a big brass floor lamp and attacks the door of the locked room, hoping to find a grateful ally.
Shannon immediately goes for a Banish after the Punish, reasoning (edit: incorrectly, as shown in the comments below) that the thing would be weakened by the 2-dice Punish penalty to both it’s Will and Power, making it much easier to Banish (edit: nope, that should be a lowering of it’s Abilities… OOPS — oh well, we’ll wave our hands and say that last round she had Bister attack it for similar effect). Theoretically, the thing would get dice bonuses for it’s Binding strength, but the scenario didn’t list Binding strength for the Spawns, so I just assuming a Binding of 1. (I realized later that they probably had the same Binding strength as their ‘parent’ (a +4), but by then it was too late… C’est la vie. 🙂
The door bursts open and Sebastian is treated to the bulging carpet demon getting blasted into carpet bits by the successful banish. Shannon immediately chastised Bister for not helping her out more and told it to get into the hallway fight now.
Seb asks Shannon for a bit of help in the hall and tries to burn the walls by lighting some drapes, but the House has an unspecified Protection which I decided was vs. heat & fire, so no go. Seb and Shannon put two and two together (the failure of Warping and the Walls’ resilience0) and figure out that the whole house is a demon. There is much horrified swearing at this point.
Seb and Shannon try a couple punishments to get CLV out of the wall (she’s not being eaten yet, but the house is trying to use her to get to the Cat-demon, who’s managed to keep it at bay by staying clear of the floors and walls… its vitality has helped) while Shade and Bister beat the hell out of the last Spawn demon.
The punishments do not go well (since the pair can’t combine efforts on Punish), but they do manage to get a couple successes and get the walls to spit out Seb’s mentor.
Everyone rushes downstairs, which is a horror show: Yvonne is crouched in the corner, staring into the middle distance, rocking back and forth and covering her ears — half-wall-stuck demons, faculty and alumni are being stripped of their flesh and only one other NPC sorcerer is still reasonably functional.
Everyone descends to the main hall and tries to get people free, using multiple Punishments to cause pain to the House (Seb keeps drawing different arcane runes in the walls with a knife: Pain, Death, GOD, etc., but with only a vague idea of the exact precepts of his character?s Sorcery, the player’s floundering for ideas after about the third round — note to self). Grabbed by the floor, Shannon switches to using her Confuse to keep the House from eating her or anyone else, and Seb slaps Yvonne into action — help us or die in here, etc.
Everyone comes to the center of the room at the end of a round wherein the group collectively combines on a Banish.
Yvonne nets them nothing, the other NPC nets them one bonus, CLV nets them none, and Shannon nets + two.
Seb, between bonuses and the -4 penalty for the house’s Binding strength (I was doing it as a penalty on the Sorcerer’s instead of a +4 to the house’s rolls, which I think is backwards, but the wording of Binding and Punish list it as a penalty to the rolls, so…) is at a base of 8 dice. He goes for an additional role-playing die by ripping off his shirt and carving a rune of warding directly into his own chest. Wow. That takes it nine dice (he’ll get a one-success knife wound right afterwards), plus the three from other others, for twelve total.
The house, normally at 22 (11 power, 11 will) is now, due to a misreading of the Punishment ability (which I will now hand-wave and call damage from physical attacks), at 10 (5 power, 5 will).
They won. Of course they won 🙂 The house melts around them and the demon is banished.
Everyone flees the house. Humanity checks for the nice banishment are handed out to the PCs and they both succeed (!). Everyone’s feeling good and it was a great first run for the game, so I gave them a chance to improve their stats as well: Shannon misses her first check (to raise her Will to five), but makes it on her second check (raising Stamina to 3, which she wasn’t exactly bummed about — Shannon getting mugged in the study showed everyone that no stat can be safely ignored). Seb makes the roll to raise his Will to a 6 (!), which (with his shiny Humanity of 6 as well) makes him ripe for some pain next game 🙂
And that’s where we left it. It’s not a deep scenario, but it allowed for some nice roleplaying moments, a bit of funny, and LOTS of chances to test out non-combat, combat, and Sorcery rules (and get them a little wrong, but there you go). Everyone seemed to have a great time and it was 1 am before we knew it.
I ended up with a few questions about things like Punish (which I now know I got wrong).
On the whole, however, it was a good experience with a slick, easy to learn, and very engaging game. Good stuff we’re all looking forward to playing again.


  1. Several rules clarifications from the Forge folks:
    PUNISH We misread the punish rules to say that each success lowers all attributes on the demon. Punish only drops the demon’s Power, which affects all of its ABILITIES, not Attributes.
    Really, what I was doing was having Punish work the same as Physical attacks — physical damage would have lowered all the demon’s scores by X number of dice for a period of time, provided they could get through the multiple protections and stamina of the thing.)
    In other words, to get the House’s numbers down (i.e.: to accomplish what we thought they were accomplishing by doing Punish), the group needed instead to be physically attacking it.
    To spot a Sorcerer’s telltale is a Lore vs. Cover roll.

  2. It’s remarkably easy to channel Sebastian/Ryan Philippe, though I made him a little nicer. No Evil Sis around.
    Like fun I was going to send Shade away at a Sorcerer & Minion Party. This Alonso guy sounded like a badass.
    Attack the house physically? Ryan will have to start carrying a little C4 and a detonator around as a regular thing. Not.

  3. I asked on the Forge for further clarification on “Punish”: it drops the Demon’s Power…
    1. … only as Power applies to use of Abilities, or…
    2. … the Power score itself goes down, in the way that Scores drop from Damage?
    ANSWER: My understanding is that the second option is correct. Punishing it isn’t necessarily a bad idea — for one thing it limits its ability to use its powers against you — but to drive down its *other* scores (including will which is the critical one for bind and banish) it would have to be attacked.
    So… it does actually drop the Power score… just not all the others.

  4. From the author:
    The Power rating itself goes down from Punish, in the way that scores drop from damage.
    Punish *does* drop a demon’s Power. The roll for Banishing is: Sorcerer’s [Will + Humanity] vs. Demon’s [Will + Power + Binding Strength]
    So if you Punish a demon successfully and reduce its Power, you *do*, in fact, decrease its total dice when it resists a subsequent Banishing attempt. Doyce, it sounds to me as if you handled it just right.
    (Which isn’t entirely true, since I was also having it affect the Demon’s Will score, but we were darn close, so Yay!)

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